UK Commercial Rooftop Solar PV Guide Launched By Industry Leaders

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Two renewable energy leaders in the UK, BRE National Solar Centre and the Renewable Energy Association (REA), have just released a new guide to installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on commercial rooftops, which can help both owners and tenants of commercial buildings in their bids to decrease energy costs and reduce their carbon footprints.

commercial-rooftop-solar-guideThe new guide, titled “Solar PV on commercial buildings: A guide for owners and developers,” was put together with the help of REA members that have commercial rooftop solar experience in legal, financial, and technical issues, and was edited by Gaynor Hartnell, who is the Community Engagement Advisor for the REA.

Although much of the rooftop solar market tends to be focused on the residential sector in the UK, commercial buildings (defined as “all non-domestic premises”) offer a great opportunity for renewable energy generation. The introduction to the new guide states that there is “an estimated 250,000 hectares of south facing commercial roof space in the UK” which could be used to meet about 50% of the UK’s electricity demand if covered with rooftop solar arrays.

“This guide tells landlords and tenants all they need to know about having solar PV installed. It comes with a downloadable financial model to help develop the business case. The guide details two routes building owners and occupiers can go down – investing in the solar panels themselves, or having a third party finance the panels and entering into an agreement to buy the electricity generated. With solar PV, companies can have more control of their energy supplies, manage their costs and cut down on their carbon emissions.” – Hartnell

According to the new guide, commercial rooftop solar arrays account for 50,000 of the nation’s 870,000 solar PV systems, with a capacity of just 1.2 GW of the 4.1 GW of capacity installed under the Feed-In Tariff (FIT), which contrasts with the trend in many other countries in Europe. Germany’s commercial rooftop solar installations account for more than half of the country’s solar capacity, for example, and increasing the uptake of commercial solar in the UK can be a viable method of increasing the amount of renewables on the grid, reducing carbon emissions, reducing peak electricity demands, and putting the relatively unused space on rooftops to work, while also acting as a hedge against future electricity rate increases.

The 28-page guide, which covers a variety of topics relating to commercial rooftop solar, including financing options, the business case for owning the system, third party ownership/PPA, leasing structures, case studies, and more, concludes that there are “huge opportunities” for commercial solar in the UK, and as the FIT is expected to be reduced, “it will become a much more obvious proposition” for commercial energy consumers.

The PDF guide can be downloaded from the REA.


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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

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